The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously agreed to condemn the violence against pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar, calling for a reversal of the military coup that has plunged the country into a political crisis since February 1. 

“The Security Council strongly condemns the violence against peaceful protestors, including against women, youth and children,” the UNSC said in a presidential statement issued on Wednesday by the US, which is currently presiding the body. Unlike a UN resolution, the presidential statement is non-binding. 

The UN body expressed its “deep concerns” over the state of emergency imposed in early February and the arbitrary detention of members of the government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, as well as other leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), calling for their “immediate release”.

Although the 15 UNSC members did not use strong language in their statement, the latter marked a massive diplomatic move, as China and Russia initially were opposing a denunciation of the actions of Myanmar’s military junta. 

While the statement does not mention particularly the word “coup”, it “expresses its continued support for the democratic transition in Myanmar, and stresses the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and uphold the rule of law.”

The coup has sparked protests across the country, with the people of the Southeast Asian country defying orders banning mass gatherings, calling for the release of political prisoners and the restoration of the democratically elected government. According to a UN spokesperson, more than 67 people have been killed and hundreds injured since the military seized power. 

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